I have to tell you three things:
1. I have a boyfriend. That’s both ‘boy and ‘friend’ in the same word. I do not have to pay a monthly boyfriend fee. It’s totally voluntary in his part.
2. I’m graduating this year! Not in May, but in December. I have been working toward my Master’s Degree in Social Work at Tulane University in New Orleans. I’ve had the best experience doing individual and group grief and trauma counseling in the Recovery School District with kids who are experiencing stress due to having witnessed a violent crime or having been through Hurricane Katrina.
3. As my culminating capstone experience, I will be taking this grief/trauma model to Belize in August and implementing it in a grassroots Domestic Violence shelter. I’m dying to tell you the story of how this whole thing came about, but it would be impossible and annoying to make you read a 5 page letter, so I’m just going to list the facts:
- I went to Belize in the fall with CFI. A team member saw “Open Doors” on a storefront. Team member said, “Hey, we have an Open Doors food bank in Westfield! Let’s see what this place is!” Team drove around for an hour trying to re-find Open Doors. Couldn’t be found. Gave up. Went back to hotel. Front desk lady said her aunt works for Open Doors and lives right behind hotel. Open Doors Lady came over after dinner to talk. Open doors lady has a name: Marilyn.
- Turns out, Open Doors is a domestic violence shelter in San Ignacio that was just opened last February. It’s only the second safe shelter in the entire country. One woman walked miles from three villages over on a broken foot, broken hip, and broken hand carrying a baby and a three-year-old with a broken arm.
- Marilyn and her friend, Anna, started Open Doors to provide support and help for the women who come in, but they have no idea what to do with the kids, many of whom are imitating violence and showing significant distress.
- I have been trained in how to help and treat kids who had witnessed ongoing, traumatic violence in New Orleans. I felt the tug to find a way to bring the New Orleans program to this shelter and train the shelter staff.
- I went back to Tulane over Thanksgiving break and proposed the program. Tulane pulled strings to get me into the International Program, but said I’d have to find someone in the country to supervise me.
- I called Open Doors. Marilyn said she had a student was working with her, and I should talk to the student. The student wasn’t there. Dead end. Student walked into the office as we were hanging up. Marilyn handed over the phone. I couldn’t hear the student because of a bad connection and only 1 minute on my phone card. I asked for student’s email address to e-mail questions. Student said: Melissa@TULANE.edu. As in, TULANE UNIVERSITY, my school in New Orleans!! She (Melissa) is a cultural anthropology doctorate student and has been doing research on domestic violence in Belize since 2002. She will be leaving in July. I’ll come in August. A seamless transition.
- Even in the retelling of this, I feel unable to express God’s clear and shining presence in all our lives in that moment—Marilyn, the Tulane student, me and the kids who need services. All of our lives intersected in the realization of that little email address, and God’s plan became clear and undeniable to all of us. Everything we’d wondered on and off before—why I was at Tulane of all places, why Melissa was in San Ignacio of all places, why Dave (the team member) had insisted on finding Open Doors that day, that the front desk lady happened to be the niece of Marilyn, and that their exact need was my exact training—it all came together. God makes me cry, He is so perfect and organized. Sigh.
In addition to this project, I’ll be continuing the AIDS/HIV prevention programming I did last fall in the schools, and starting a mentoring program through CFI to match up the Standard 5 and 6 girls with “big-sister” type women in the States. These women will hopefully serve as pen-pals and supports, and will be a source of encouragement for the girls to continue their schooling past primary school.
Please know that if you’ve been involved in any of this Belize business for the past few years by supporting or encouraging in ANY way, this opportunity could not have come together without you. Although I am certain God would have met their needs with or without me, I appreciate your willingness to serve through prayer and financial support so that we could all be a part of it.
I’m working hard to fund the projects through student loans and corporate sponsors, however, if you feel particularly drawn to any of these upcoming fall projects, I’d love your prayer and support. The total cost of all three projects is $3,900 and if you’d like to contribute, it can be done in three ways:
• Make a check out to CFI with “Brooke Wilson” in memo line and mail to: CFI, 448 Leeds Circle, Carmel, IN 46032 (this method is tax deductible)
• Go to CFI website and contribute online (this method is also tax deductible): http://www.cfikids.com- designate to “Brooke Wilson”
• Make a check out to Brooke Wilson (this method is NOT tax deductible): email me
I hope you get a sense of my heart and my calling through this letter. It’s hard to put into words, but I feel blessed through this opportunity and want to help with the skills I’ve been given.